Australia and the United States are in a race to attract Chinese tourism

Image: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty.

New visas unveiled as part of the FTA deal signed this week by the Australian federal government are set to encourage more Chinese tourists who are driving a revival of Australia’s $110 billion tourism industry.

Under the new move, Chinese nationals can now make the most of multiple entry visas lasting three to 10 years, putting Australia on par with the United States, which is expected to see 3.1 million Chinese visitors in 2019.

Thanks to rising incomes, a strengthened currency, improved living standards and open visa policies, China’s expanding middle class are flying more than ever with 107 million travelling abroad in 2014.

Earlier this year, China was found to be the leading source of Australia’s inbound tourism making up 18% of total international tourist spend, according to ANZ’s economic insights report.

This was more than the UK (12%) and Japan (5%) combined.

And on an even more surprising note — China was responsible for 92% of the monthly increase of short-term visitor arrivals to Australia in February.

Huge numbers.

“Chinese make a large amount of repeat visits to Australia, obviously some have invested here as well. It is becoming so vital it is at our peril if we don’t embrace it,” outgoing Tourism Australia chairman, Geoff Dixon, told The Australian.

Dixon says that whilst many have been “shocked by the sheer weight of numbers”, Australia does “have many of the things the Chinese want”.

“They want a safe and secure destination, aquatic scenery, really good food and welcoming people. It’s almost as if we planned it.”

The move will aim to put Australia on the same pedestal as the United States who also signed a new extended US-China visa agreement at last year’s APEC summit, boosting business-goers and students.

According to Tourism Research Australia, Asia is expected to account for 58% of international visitor arrivals growth over the next decade.

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